Healthy communication takes practice and planning. Here are some tips to help you get started.
· Use "I statements.” Say things like, "I feel upset when you ___" instead of, "You're making me upset." Steer clear of blaming or accusing them of purposely trying to hurt you.
· Be clear and direct. No one can read your mind, so tell them what you think, feel, and need.
· Don’t push aside your feelings. Bring up things that bother you early on so they don’t build up and become bigger problems.
· Build trust. Unless someone has given you a reason not to, believing that they’re telling you the truth and assuming that they mean well helps establish trust.
· Ask questions. If you don't understand what they're saying or why, ask questions. Don’t make assumptions.
· Talk in person. It's really easy to misunderstand or misinterpret a text message or email. Talking in person (or through video chat) will allow you to hear their tone of voice and see their body language.
· Don’t yell. Getting angry or defensive during an argument is totally normal. But if you’re feeling upset or angry, take a break until you both cool off.
· Be willing to apologize. Everyone makes mistakes. Saying you’re sorry (and meaning it) goes a long way in helping to move on after a fight.
All these tips are easier said than done. Entering into couple's counseling can help partners understand each other's blind spots with the goal of increasing empathy and understanding. I have found that the issue for most people is not that they don't know what to do, but rather having the ability to change. Book a free consult and invest back into your relationship today.